In course of my visit in India, I am starting to get an idea of its new higher education landscape. This is why I came, and as I see things, I am excited by the opportunities it presents to education entrepreneurs.
Indeed, the Indian higher ed has gone through significant transformation in the last few years, with an expansion of public and private investment, a few significant 'education scandals' and a new aspiring middle class knocking the doors vigorously. India is one major country in the world where the Government is still investing in Higher education: Understandably so, as the country is riding on its demographic dividend and looking to up-skill its huge young population. Indian industry is hungry for skilled workers, and as I understood from my several conversations, there are abundant middle level positions which are still unfilled despite the surge in graduate population.The private sector expansion has been fast, perhaps too fast, but broken legislation and flawed models affected real progress so far. The private sector participation has expanded the degree granting seats, but not much else, because the sector has been dominated by follow-the-herd thinking, everyone trying to offer in demand skills, and very little leadership and new thinking have been in evidence.
For Indian Higher Education, this is best and worst of the times at the same time. Here is a case of bottomless demand, huge capacity expansion and a complete demand-supply anachronism. The reason is, like other things in India, lack of planning under the guise of overplanning. If the government had a plan for higher education, other than looking away and let some marauders make some money, it is not evident. The government's own investment was primarily channeled into creation of elite Engineering and Business colleges, though the general education colleges are the ones which serve most students and needed most funding. On the private investment side, the government tried to control the quality of education with the tool of land ownership - the regulation more or less is that you can get a college license if you own land - which completely subverts the ownership and incentives for an education business. Education has become a convenient way to employ real estate in recessionary times, and most of the surge in Higher Education, which further expanded the seats in Engineering and Business Management, is guided by this thinking rather than any strategic foresight. Indeed, the supply-demand gap is only to be expected in this situation.
The response of the industry so far has been curious. In India, you don't expect the government to do anything right, and rather try to fend for yourself. So far, instead of pressurizing the government to get the education infrastructure right, the industry has focused on setting up in-campus schools. Widely feted, this is the wrong model though: As the export-based industries face the recessionary pinch and competitive pressures from countries like Philippines, the cost of in-company training and wastage of human capital through general education that does not work, is making India Inc uncompetitive. As we come to know the limits of in-company training, the Indian industry has fallen in love with 'employability training'. These days, employability certification is being talked about at the expense of higher education. This is indeed a dirty fix, if it ever works: There is no other solution India can find to compete and succeed in world economy other than getting its Higher Ed right.
So, stage set for Higher Ed 2.0 in India? Possibly, and we have no choice but optimism. This year, MBA and engineering seats are going empty and promoters are waking up to the fact that education can be an expensive way of holding real estate. We may have failures of some educational institutions on the cards, which should finally make the regulators understand that having land is not any indicator of serious educational intention. This should throw open the business to serious educators, who should bring new innovation in the field. I can predict three things that will change in Education, for better, in the coming months.
First, the focus will shift from land and building to people, promoters and tutors, their credibility and whether they are serious about education and has the capability to teach.
Second, we shall see curriculum innovation and offerings in areas beyond Engineering and Management. Surely a society will need its teachers, accountants, artists, journalists to function, and they will become paying careers for many people. The expansion of such positions have been underserved by education sector so far.
Third, creative capacity of an individual - his or her ability to deal with diverse situations and problems - will make a comeback in education. It has been pushed out by the demands of narrow functional specialism, and now that the model does not expectedly work, we are seeking a yet narrower solution. Surely, it is time to wake up and get the model of education right.
So, that's my take-away from India - a quest for a new Higher Education. This is indeed a worthwhile thing to spend time thinking about.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.